It all began with an apparition witnessed by young Bernadette Soubirous. After the first apparition on 11 February 1858, several more followed. The ninth, on 25 February 1858, marked a turning point: a few hundred people went with the “seer” to the grotto on that morning. As they looked on in amazement, thinking her mad, the young girl began to scrape the muddy soil in the depths of the grotto, then scooped up the resulting mixture of water and mud with her hands, and drank it. She also washed her face with it. “Go and drink from the spring and wash yourself there” were the instructions given by the Lady and heard by Bernadette alone. After this discovery, people came to the spring to drink the water and splash it on their faces. The first miraculous healings occurred in the days that followed. The Lourdes spring became a place of pilgrimage in itself and offered new hope for millions of sick people worldwide.
An essential element
Take the plunge
Large marble baths are filled with the famous Lourdes water. Just after the Grotto, by the Gave, the pilgrims immerse themselves in this water, which has a temperature of 12°C. You first have to arrive during opening times and wait on the benches provided in front of the heavy stone doors. An army of volunteers from the Hospitality of Our Lady of Lourdes will be there to guide you. No need to bring flip-flops, a swimsuit or a towel: everything will be provided for you there. Everything is completely free of charge but you can of course leave an offering. When your turn comes, a volunteer (male if you’re a man, female if you’re a woman) will lead you to your bath. In this small individual room, screened off by curtains, the stripping down is physical as well as spiritual: the pared-down setting, the baths made of bluish rock, the simple cloth robe. You experience an atmosphere of prayer and contemplation, assisted by two volunteers. You then move towards the bath and the two people on either side of you help you into the Lourdes water for a brief immersion.
Plan your visit
The Sanctuary Baths are located within the Sanctuary at the following address:
Avenue Mgr Théas
Sanctuaire ND de Lourdes
The nearest free car parks are the one at the top of Boulevard de la Grotte, near Boulevard du Lapacca, and the Esplanade du Paradis car park.
If you are coming by train, Lourdes station is about 2 kilometres away from the Sanctuary.
Take the L4 or L5 bus
Visit the sanctuary
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes covers an area of 52 hectares. Within the Domain, you will find 22 places of worship. Some of these gathering places really must be seen if you want to make the most of your visit. From the Massabielle Grotto to the Church of St. Bernadette through the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, set forth to discover the Sanctuary and its history.